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The Revealers play nominated for top theatrical award in South Africa

A South African theatrical production of The Revealers, Doug Wilhelm’s best-known middle-school novel, was recently nominated for a Naledi Award, South Africa’s top theatrical honor.

The Revealers has been the focus of reading-and-discussion projects by over 1,000 middle schools across the United States — and not long after it came out in 2003, Doug wrote a play version at the request of a Vermont school theatre director. The play has been performed by schools in a number of U.S. states. Last year, it was taken on a tour of 20 middle schools in historically black South African townships by the National Children’s Theatre of Johannesburg. Later in 2014, the theatre company performed the show again at its home venue.

The Revealers is an empowering and compelling piece of work, brought to believable life with strong performance and wise and simple design,” wrote South African arts blogger Robyn Sassen in reviewing the play, which was performed by the multiracial cast of the company’s Traveling Troupe.

“With its upbeat music, easy use of cellphones and internet, fast-paced, highly professional acting and effective staging, this is a play that proves the power of drama to raise and examine issues in a way that hits home to the most blasé teenage audience,” said a review by Jennifer de Klerk on the South African website Artslink. “It’s a play that raises awareness and demands discussion and reaction ... There are no quick solutions, no easy answers, but the theme of the play is that speaking out, telling the story, does have value, if only because the bullies see their behaviour reflected and the victims discover they are not alone.”

Now in their 11th year, “the Naledi Theatre Awards reflect the vibrant and diverse nature of the South African theatrical landscape that exists today,” said the South African website Artslink.co.za. “These are the premiere awards for theatre excellence in South Africa.”

The Revealers production was nominated in the category “Best Production for Young Audiences.” When the winners were announced on April 14 at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City, the award in that category went to a play version of George Orwell’s iconic novel Animal Farm, produced by South African actress Nobulali Dangazele.

“Well, it was a surprising honor just to be nominated — and not too sad to lose to a George Orwell story,” Doug said after the announcement. “I’m not even sure how the National Theatre Company found the play, but they put up a stunningly creative and powerful production of it.”